The polished granite and marble floors and facings in Atlantic City casino hotels, some with ornate medallions, are the epitome of lasting luxurious beauty.
Their stone may have originated millions of years ago within the Earth, but much of it started its current architectural life as 1,600-pound slabs on the back lot of Filling Marble & Tile’s Galloway Township production facility.
There, craftsmen used water-jet cutters and diamond abrasives to form and polish stone creations for all of the city’s casinos, owner Pat Wigglesworth-Rattigan said, including the spectacular entrance to the expanded Harrah’s Atlantic City.
The most recent casino customers have been Margaritaville at Resorts Casino Hotel and Chickie’s & Pete’s at Tropicana Casino and Resort.
She said the company, founded in 1928, has created logos in stone for many businesses, including Anheuser-Busch, Marks & Morgan Jewelers and Lonseal Flooring.
For the residential market, Filling Marble & Tile fabricates and installs custom kitchens, countertops, vanities, fireplace surrounds and decorative medallions.
There, too, the dreams of customers can be made lovely and nearly everlasting.
“We have put a Mickey Mouse into someone’s kitchen countertop,” Wigglesworth-Rattigan said. “I like Mickey Mouse and all, but not quite enough to want him in my countertop.”
To make its stonework expertise and 87 years of experience with tile of all kinds more readily available to customers and contractors, the company opened Filling Marble & Tile Retail Outlet in downtown Egg Harbor City in 2011.
In the store, customers can see some impressive stone handiwork and start the planning for their own granite or marble countertops, tables or surrounds. Or they can select ceramic and other tile in almost endless varieties and colors. Filling will provide a list of recommended tile installers, if desired.
The store also stocks tools and tile-setting supplies, and displays kitchen and vanity choices and an outdoor bar.
While the retail store, managed by Holly Kerstetter, of Mays Landing, handles the needs of most customers, the ones who want a granite or marble creation often make the trip to the nearby fabrication facility and its yard to choose their stone from more than 150 slabs available.
The rows of 11-foot-long stone slabs, pre-polished on one face, are stunning themselves with a wide range of natural colors — red, blue, green, silver, earth tones, black and white, with many combinations thereof. The stone is imported from Brazil, China and India.
Each stone has its own particular and varied pattern reflecting the ancient formation of the granite and marble. “A lot of times, customers will see their slab and the template for their project and specify where they want particular patterns in their design,” Wigglesworth-Rattigan said.
The yard has a lot of remnants, smaller pieces often used to make table tops and nightstands.
Filling Marble & Tile was started by Ed Carpenter, said Wigglesworth-Rattigan, of the Beesleys Point section of Upper Township, and has had various partners in its nearly century of existence. Two of them — Tom Ade and Rose Liepe — retired about five years ago after 30 years with the company.
Current minority partner Dennis Wigglesworth, 50, of Estell Manor, started working for Filling Marble at age 18 and became a partner in 1991. Wigglesworth-Rattigan, his ex-wife, said she became a partner in 1997, and the company is now a woman-owned business.
Before casinos arrived, the company struggled to survive and traveled far to find the work, she said.
“We did all of the Friendly’s restaurants in Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania on weekends,” she said. “The crews would head out Friday after work, work Saturday and Sunday, and be back here to work on Monday.”
When the economy sank a few years ago, people cut back on the granite countertops that had become very popular, she said.
Still, stone fabricators have done well during the past decade in New Jersey.
The number of workers in the industry rose from 338 in 2002 to 648 last year, and the establishments in cut stone and stone product manufacturing increased from 26 to 47 in New Jersey in 2012, federal Bureau of Labor Statistics data show.
Total wages for the industry in the state rose from $21 million to $27 million.
The market shifted again, this time in the industry’s favor, after Hurricane Sandy damaged many properties along the shore.
That prompted a lot of renovation, which continues to result in a lot of work for the company.
Wigglesworth-Rattigan expects that work, the business from the new store and the rebounding housing market will nicely supplement Filling Marble & Tile’s more famous work crafting stone for projects across the nation.
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